Friday 3rd April – 5th Station – Simon of Cyrene helps carry Jesus’ Cross Unison Sieger Koeder
St Mark 15: 21
They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.
He was a countryman, not a city dweller, who had come to celebrate the Passover and, probably bemused, joined the spectators watching the condemned criminals being forced to carry the cross-pieces from which they would hang in crucifixion. What was Simon thinking when, with no warning, he was dragged from the crowd and made to carry that heavy burden? Mark names Simon and names his sons which leads us to think that they would have been known to Mark’s first readers, presumably as members of the early Christian church community. May we assume that watching Jesus as he went to his death had such an effect on Simon that he linked up with the followers of Jesus? If so, what can we all learn about the effect that meeting Jesus, our living Lord, can still have, what effect the lives and example of Christians, including us, can also have on others? Simon did not volunteer to “take up the cross and follow Jesus” (Mark 4. 34) but was forced to do so, he had no choice. Together with other groups the UK’s Churches’ Investors’ Group has done much vital work to highlight the fate of those compelled, tricked or coerced into modern slavery: young people, often from Asia or Africa and deceived by false promises, who find themselves tricked and coerced to work in slave-like factories in their own countries or nail bars, car-washes, cannabis farms, brothels and such like in the UK and other western countries. Are we sure that none of our expenditure reinforces this exploitation and degradation? We may all like bargain prices, but who pays the real cost, or don’t we want to know? Simon, Alexander and Rufus are part of our history: what do we know about those who are part of our contemporary world?
Gracious God, we thank you and honour those who have accepted the call to take up their cross and follow Jesus without knowing all that this would involve. We also give thanks for those who commit themselves to the liberation of all who are forced into modern slavery, praying that captives may be freed and justice prevail through the power of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ: Amen.
The Rev’d Julian Macro, Retired Minister, member Verwood United Reformed Church
Thursday 2nd April 4th Station Jesus meets His Mother
“No Words” Sieger Koeder
St Luke 2: 34-35
Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’
Sometimes there are “no words.” Mary knew from the moment she accepted the invitation to bear a son that he would be different. How many people are asked to be the vessel for God’s child? She and Joseph welcomed the Magi, and she treasured all they said in her heart. She took her son the Temple, and heard Simeon speak of Jesus’ world-changing role. She invited Jesus to help at a wedding and saw a miracle. She listened to him. She watched as he was lead to his death. She loved him, but there were no final words to express her love or her grief. An embrace and a willingness to journey with him to the foot of the cross where all she could offer. Sometimes there are “no words.”
When our beloved partner is dying; when our child is struggling with addiction, when our friend loses their job, when something happens out of the blue, out of our control, and is outside our comfort zone, there may be no words. No words to comfort us, no words that help us cope, no words that help us make sense of the situation.
But, even in that tough space there is love. There is God. There is a hug, a listening companion who promises to journey with us through the pain. God is present in the toughest times, in community, in silence, in a friend.
Sometimes there are no words, but a ministry of presence and an ability to stand with us in the pain, and the promise of love no matter what we face. When there are no words, the ability to stay when others flee makes all the difference to the one in need.
Loving God, we thank you that you are with us no matter what we face in life. We thank you for those people who support us with their loving presence, who can be silent with us when words cannot take away our pain. When it is our turn to stay with those in need, we ask that you give us courage to be present, to listen and to love them through their grief and loss to a place of wholeness.
The Rev’d Martha McInnes, Minister, Cardiff and Penarth Group.
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